FDMS to kick off start to new school year; public schools prepare

ISOLATION ROOM: Benavente Middle School Nurse Shirley Cruz, right, and school aide Jolene Mendiola work to set up an isolation room at the Dededo campus on July 27. Norman M. Taruc/The Guam Daily Post

On Monday, Father Duenas Memorial School will open its campus to students, kicking off the new school year for the island's students.

The all-boy's high school is the first Catholic school on Guam to reopen for in-class instruction since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Orientation for students began Thursday.

"They're ready," said Superintendent Juan Flores, who said the Mangilao school used last week to iron out details. He said there will be some form of A and B classes for Father Duenas Memorial and other high schools. For students who need additional support during their "off days" they will be situated at the distance learning centers, which are primarily gyms and libraries that allow students access to computers and internet. 

For elementary schools, students will be in class five days a week, he said.

Flores said for all the schools, to avoid congestion, parents won't be able to park their car and walk kids to the classrooms.

"Kids will be helped out of the car and then brought to the classroom," he said. 

Additionally, classrooms at the schools will have signage, indicating the number of people allowed in the classrooms.

Charter, GDOE classes to start Aug. 17

Dominican Catholic School in Yigo will be the next to open for classes Aug. 5.

The majority of Catholic schools will start classes Aug. 10: Dominican Child Development Center in Ordot, Infant of Prague Catholic Nursery & Kindergarten in Mangilao, Mercy Heights Catholic Nursery & Kindergarten in Tamuning, Bishop Baumgartner Memorial Catholic School in Sinajana, St. Francis Catholic School in Yona, San Vicente Catholic School in Barrigada and Academy of Our Lady of Guam in Hagåtña.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic School in Agat will begin classes Aug. 11. St. Anthony Catholic School in Tamuning will begin classes Aug. 11 for kindergarten through fourth grade and Aug. 17 for grades four through eight.

Notre Dame High School in Talofofo will start classes Aug. 17.

Guam charter schools will also open in August. Guahan Academy Charter School in Barrigada will start classes Aug. 17. iLearn Academy Charter School in Dededo will begin classes Aug. 12, and Aug. 20 is the start date for classes at SIFA Learning Academy in Barrigada.

Guam Department of Education schools also will be starting the new school year on Aug. 17.

Preparation underway

Most GDOE students have opted for home learning, whether through hard copies or online learning.

At Benavente Middle School only about 30% of students attending BMS will attend physically, according to Principal Stacy Coletta.

These past couple of weeks, the school, like other GDOE schools, have been preparing classrooms and hallways with arrows and necessary signs to guide students with everything from knowing the capacity of bathrooms and classrooms, to social distancing in the hallways.

Next school year will deviate substantially from the past as education officials balance learning with safety in light of COVID-19.

GDOE offered three learning models – traditional face-to-face with social distancing parameters, at-home learning with hard copies, and at-home online distance learning – to accommodate parents and students with whatever their preference might be.

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